I was an invited guest on a Q&A panel at the University of Westminster recently, where students were wanting advice, guidance and practical tips on how to get ahead in the #mice sector.

Something that came up numerous times was networking, and more specifically how to do this as it’s not something that’s taught and ‘learning on the job’ can be a bit daunting

‘Networking’ is something that strikes fear into the hearts of most people.

For those that say they enjoy it, is due to the fact they have no heart and/or their product or service is based on a high-volume numbers game, which for the purpose of this post, isn’t the intended reader.

So, I thought I’d share my 20+ years’ experience of hawking myself around the UK shaking sweaty hands and kissing sweatier arses

  1. Failing to prepare is preparing to fail
    • If you haven’t researched who is going to this event that you’re not networking, you’re there for the free food and drink
    • Plan in advance what will make this a successful use of your time (business cards handed out is not a metric) and ensure you focus on this at the event
  2. Relax and enjoy yourself
    • No one and I mean no one really ‘likes’ to network, you’re basically chatting to a room full of strangers hoping to find a needle in a haystack
    • Try thinking about it like ‘business speed dating’, you’re going to meet interesting (sometimes) people hoping to match up and have a mutual connection and if a good time happens by the end of the night, then everyone’s a winner
  3. Be mindful of when to approach
    • If only 2 people are in a group, leave them alone, they’re not networking, they’re in a conversation
    • If 3 or more people are talking then saunter over with your best smile on
  4. Make the first move
    • Hi, would you mind if I joined you…
    • I’m xxx, what are you looking to get from the event today?
    • Think dating but one where you definitely need a happy ending that night
  5. Listen actively, not waiting for a pause to launch into what you want to say
    • Do they give you any openings to introduce your product?
    • What are their pinch points challenges etc.?
    • If they’re not likely to ‘buy’ from you can you refer to them to someone else
  6. Learn how to excuse yourself gracefully
    • I’m going to get a coffee, would you like to join me? (gives them a polite opportunity to say goodbye)
    • Introduce them to someone else you think would benefit them
    • If you seriously can’t shake someone, then it’s a fake trip to the toilet for you I’m afraid.
  7. The golden rule is that 99% of the time, the person you meet will not be the person you end up working with
    • Somewhere in the future, they will be asked if they know someone who…
    • How would you like them to remember you?
    • What will they say about you?

I hope that’s been of use to you, and if you have any advice yourself, I’d love to read your comments.

#eventprofs #recruitment #meetingprofs

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